Put simply, sites that rank highly have higher Click Through Rates (CTR) and as a result, receive more visits. The graph above shows how the CTR drops off significantly after the #1 ranked site. The Google heat map below shows the same.
Rankings Are Not the Best Measure of SEO
Many people like to use rankings as a way to measure the effectiveness of natural SEO efforts. Ranking reports are easy to pull and share. Using ranking reports to measure SEO effectiveness is flawed for the following reasons:
- Rankings are constantly changing.
- Google provides searchers with search results that are customized for them based upon their past search history, location, etc. The rankings that one person sees is much different that what another person would see.
- Running a ranking report requires polling the search engines which they do not like.
The Best Measure of the Effectiveness of SEO is the Number of Visits from Non-Branded Natural Search Phrases
In your Analytics reports, check your organic search traffic. Filter your traffic in three ways:
- Branded Search Traffic – Filter by your company name, product names, employee names, etc.
- Not Provided – Filter out organic search traffic where the keyword phrase is not provided. Google will not provide keywords when someone is logged into a Google account. They do this to protect the part of their algorithm that controls personalized search results.
- Non-Branded Search Traffic – Filter out branded search phrases and not provided. You will be left with non-branded search traffic.
An increase in branded search traffic is not a good measure of the effectiveness of natural search because the people who type branded phrases into a search engine are already familiar with your company. Natural search should reach potential customers that have never heard of your company. This is why measuring traffic on non-branded keyword phrases is the best measure of the effectiveness of natural SEO. It will measure the number of visits received from all keyword phrases, not just the few that you may have checked in a ranking report including many long tail keyword phrases you may not have considered.
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